Musical Instruments in Worship



The Westminster Confession and Musical Instruments in Worship




Dabney, Robert – Against Musical Instruments in Public Worship  HTML, 1849/1888, includes a Review of Dr. John L. Girardeau’s Instrumental Music in Public Worship

Dabney was one of the last American presbyterian stalwarts that upheld the majority historic reformed view against using musical instruments in the worship of God, as instruments were minutely regulated by God’s express command in scripture and inherently tied to the OT temple administration which is now done away with.

Gibson, James – Instrumental Music1869, 23 pages, being a chapter from his The Public Worship of God

This chapter argues against the introduction of musical instruments in the public worship of the Free Church of Scotland (for which church Gibson was a systematic theology professor).  He critiques Robert Candlish and Robert Buchanan who left the matter as an open question.

Kennedy, John – The Introduction of Instrumental Music into the Worship of the Free Church Unscriptural, Unconstitutional and InexpedientHTML, no date, 29 paragraphs



Are Muscial Instruments Circumstances of Worship?

Girardeau, John – Are Musical Instruments Circumstances of Worship? Part 1 and Part 2  p. 136 and p. 188 respectively, 18 and 11 pages respectively, from his Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church

Circumstances are indifferent things relating to the worship of God that have no spiritual significance, such as the time of worship, the furniture one sits on, etc.  The Biblical and Confessional answer is to whether musical instruments can be brought into worship as indifferent circumstances is: No.




Girardeau, John – Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church,  Buy  1888, 208 pages

The classic book length Biblical defense against musical instruments in worship.  This was written at a time when the presbyterian churches were capitulating to Anglican worship practices.  Girardeau was one of the last of the faithful ministers to uphold the old historic reformed view and practice.

Schwertley, Brian – Musical Instruments in the Public Worship of God,  Buy  1996, 168 pages

An excellent exhaustive defense of the Biblical and historic reformed view. 




Schwertley, Brian – Musical Instruments in the Public Worship of God: the Historical Evidence,  Buy  2003, 19 pages

This is an anthology of 85 quotes from church history (mostly reformed church history) demonstrating its large opposition to musical instruments in worship.


Are musical instruments in worship a big deal?

Robert Candlish

as quoted in James Gibson’s, The Public Worship of God, 1869, p. 107

“I believe that it is a question which touches some of the highest and deepest points of Christian theology.  

Is the temple destroyed?  Is the temple worship wholly superseded?  Have we, or have we not, priests and sacrifices among us now?  Is the temple or the synagogue the model on which the Church of the New Testament is formed?  Does the Old Testament itself point to anything but ‘the fruit of the lips’ [Heb. 13:15] as the peace-offering or thank-offering of gospel times?  Is there a trace in the New Testament of any other mode of praise?  

For my part I am persuaded that if the organ be admitted, there is no barrier, in principle, against the sacerdotal system in all its fullness — against the substitution again, in our whole religion, of the formal for the spiritual, the symbolic for the real.” 


Contra Muscial Instruments in Worship

John Gill

A Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity, Vol. 3, ‘Of Singing Psalms As A Part of Public Worship’ (London, 1796), p. 384

5.  It is observed, that David’s psalms were sung formerly with musical instruments, as the harp, timbrel, and cymbal, and organs; and why not with these now?  If these are to be disused, why not singing itself?  I answer, these are not essential to singing, and so may be laid aside, and that continue; it was usual to burn incense at the time of prayer, typical of Christ’s mediation, and of the acceptance of prayer through it; that is now disused; but prayer being a moral duty, still remains: the above instruments were used only when the church was in its infant-state, and what is showy, gaudy, and pompous, are pleasing to children; and as an ancient writer observes, “these were fit for babes, but in the churches (under the gospel-dispensation, which is more manly) the use of these, fit for babes, is taken away, and bare or plain singing is left.”  As for organs were first introduced by a pope of Rome, Vitalianus, and that in the seventh century, and not before




Related Pages

Psalm Singing